In the modern society of today, people have become increasingly image-conscious. Image refers not only to the outward physical appearance but also the demeanor of oneself. 'Looking good has become so deeply entrenched in the modern societal psyche that many people, both man and women alike, are willing to fork out thousands of dollars to lavish themselves on expensive designer clothing and beauty treatments and products, but are unwilling to donate an equally impressive amount to the charity. It is clear that the values and priorities of the modern generation are based on image rather than the heart. In this modern world where people increasingly judge and assess others based on first impressions, it has almost become a necessity to project a good and favorable image of oneself in front of others, and this has resulted in many people subscribing to the notion that image is everything. But is it really so? While a good image is a highly valued asset in today's context and can help one attain success, there are other things which are just as important, if not more important that it, such as having good moral values and the ability to think critically.
Image is so important to people of the modern generation that many do not mind burning a hole in their pocket to buy designer clothes and beauty care products. To them, wearing designer clothes and spending thousands of dollars on beauty treatment such as facials and body hair removal are no longer things restricted to the rich and high-class socialites, but have become the norm. In some universities such the Singapore Management University, students have to attend etiquette courses so that they know how to 'peel prawns using forks and spoons' in order to boost their image. Lasik surgery, a laser surgery used to correct myopia has seen demand soar over the past few years as more myopic people turn to it as the answer to wean them off their spectacles so that they will look better. Plastic surgery, which is usually used for correcting severe facial anomalies such as replacing a broken nose or charred facial skin, has in recent years become a popular cosmetic treatment. An increasing number of people with perfectly normal faces but are unsatisfied with their appearance have gone under the knife, hoping that plastic surgery can correct their perceived 'flaws' and transform the ugly ducklings in them into beautiful swans. American reality shows such as "Extreme Makeover" and "The Swan" and 'Man-made beauty' contests in China show that the obsession with image is growing into a global phenomenal. The fact that so many people now view plastic surgery as an ordinary cosmetic surgery and are willing to take the risks of undergoing surgery for vanity sake, on top of having no qualms about spending so much money to improve their outward appearance shows that image is indeed everything to them. In light of the obsession with image, people are starting to embrace artificial 'plastic' beauty and discard traditional notions of natural beauty, thinking that a good image is a necessary ingredient in achieving success. But they have failed to realize that having a good image without substance and good character will not lead them very far in whatever their endeavors.